KENYA – The Ministry of Health in Kenya has reported a decline in goiter cases nationwide, attributing the positive trend to the implementation of food fortification programs.

Mary Muriuki, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Health, highlighted the success of these initiatives, noting a reduction in goiter cases from 16% in 1994 to 6% currently.

She emphasized that the widespread adoption of fortified foods has been pivotal in improving public health outcomes.

Food fortification is the process of purposefully adding vitamins and minerals to food or condiments to increase their nutritional value. This can also be achieved through biofortification, which is the process of selecting cultivated plant varieties to increase their nutritional value.

With fortified staples such as wheat and maize flour, vegetable oils, and fats, Kenya has seen notable enhancements in the nutritional content of commonly consumed foods, contributing to the decline in goiter prevalence.

Goitre is a condition related to the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck and produces hormones that regulate metabolism. In Kenya, as in many other parts of the world, goiter has been a significant health concern, particularly in regions where iodine deficiency is prevalent.

In addition to food fortification, Kenya has adopted a holistic approach to address micronutrient deficiencies.

This includes clinical treatments, nutrient supplementation, and promoting dietary diversification, particularly targeting vulnerable groups such as children under five and pregnant women.

The implementation of iodized salt, introduced in Kenya in 1970, has seen remarkable uptake, with 99% of households now consuming iodized salt. Despite these achievements, challenges persist, especially concerning zinc and vitamin A deficiencies among vulnerable populations.

Looking ahead, Kenya plans to host a biennial food fortification summit to assess progress, celebrate successes, and acknowledge industry leaders for their contributions to public health.

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